Wintersun‘s atmospheric sound continues with the crowdfunded album The Forest Seasons, inspired by Antonio Vivaldi’s violin concerto, “The Four Seasons.” It is by far their cleanest and most polished heavy metal recording to date. While many wanted a follow-up to the critically acclaimed Time I, this is the perfect holdover until we are blessed with Time II. This new album is a great show of versatility within the confines of heavy metal music.
The first track, “Awaken from the Dark Slumber (Spring),” clocks in at 14:41. The intro features goth keyboards with mystical and primal sound effects. With a tinge of Paradise Lost and Sisters of Mercy thrown in, we enter the musical mind of Jari Mäenpää, writer and founder of Wintersun. After the enchanting sounds fade, the double bass drums and death metal vocals take over, leaving nothing but pure angst. We get a glimpse of Jari’s clear voice as he teases the audience with his uncanny musical arrangements by noodling in and out of songs.
The second track “The Forest that Weeps (Summer)” has a buildup reminiscent of the Hammerheart period of the band Bathory. It begins with a subtle acoustic guitar accompanied by ambient noise. This musical arrangement is designed so the human ear is transfixed for a buildup to the song. The near one-minute introduction alone has the listener in the palm of its hand. The euphonious approach in Yari’s voice on this track shows the complexity of his musical mind. It is by far the standout track of the four titles.
The third track, “Eternal Darkness (Autumn),” is the most straight-forward and arguably the most brutal. Blast beats and black metal inspiration for an entire 6+ minutes. This musical opus switches gears to a more laid-back tempo with raw sounding guitars that seems to be emulating dual harmonic violins. This track is black metal fused with a touch of progressive music. With three musical sections, it could easily be turned into a live theatrical play. This is darkest track of the four. Hold onto your seats as this rollercoaster of a song will leave you with an adrenaline rush.
The final song “Loneliness (Winter)” brings something that is often lost in heavy metal, and that is matters of the heart. Too often, the genre is wrapped up with distraction that we don’t hear songs about hurt, pain, or even love. This song has roots that are reminiscent of King Crimson’s Three of a Perfect Pair era, with a tinge of Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters era. When Jari sings the lyrics “wash away by the morning side”, it echoes Pink Floyd’s The Wall.
With three amazing records under his belt, Jari is establishing himself as a major composer of music. He comes from the cloth of artists such as Prince and Devin Townsend. Which is why it’s important that he takes his time for the next Time II record. Only the future will determine how much he will absorb as life moves forward. One thing is for sure, Jari delivers not only musically but emotionally as well. We the public will only reap the rewards every time this artist enters a recording facility. With the summer not yet over, this album is easily one of the top albums for 2017.